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Cardinals Fired Early, Often In 10-4 Win Over Cubs To Tie Series ~ Martinez vs Lester In Final Game

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Randal Grichuk plates Adams and Molina for Cardinals 4-0 lead in the first..
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals, being blanked in the first game by the Chicago Cubs, did not waste any time facing Jason Hammel. Hammel, who was 8-1/1.84 ERA at home this season, would be handed a 23.14 and be retired after 2.1 innings pitched. He had his first two outs on the first two Cardinals he faced, then bases loaded. Yadier Molina sent the leather out to left for 2-RBI double to put the Cardinals on the board.

He was followed by Randal Grichuk with a 2-RBI single to start the game with a 4-0 lead. Hammel got his third out, eighth batter faced, to close his first inning. 

Hammel was match-up against Cardinals rookie Alex Reyes, who made his debut as a starter against the Cubs. In his total 7.1 IP previously against the Cubs, he only allowed the Cubs two hits. Even though issuing seven free passes, he had held them scoreless, along with seven strikeouts in his two games in a relief role. As a starter, the Cubs initiated Reyes in his first. He allowed a hit, issued a walk before he got his first out. Ben Zobrist put a dent into the Cardinals lead with a 2-RBI triple. Reyes got his second "K" and a pop-out to close his first, leaving Zobrist stranded on third. 

Once again, Hammel had two outs in his second. Third hitter he faced, Stephen Piscotty. With a 1-1 pitch he blasts the two-seamer sailing high above the fans sitting in the left field bleachers to the street, for a solo-shot to boost the Cardinals lead. 

Hammel closed his second, and would return for the third. Reyes allowed one more earned run in his second, giving up a RBI double to Dexter Fowler to cut the Cardinals back to two runs. Hammel allowed two runners on in his third with one out. He was retired as Mike Montgomery followed. Grichuk to face him, and connects for a RBI double. Montgomery loaded the bases with a walk to Aledmys Diaz. Reyes hits into a double-play to close the inning. 

The game held with the Cardinals 6-3 lead until the seventh. Hector Rondon on the mound. Piscotty doubled, got his first out and issued a walk. Matt Adams punched out a RBI double, and Molina for a 2-RBI single to give the Cardinals a three run seventh for insurance. The 9-3 lead would hold until the bottom of the ninth. Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh was stung by Cubs back-up catcher Willson Contreras for a solo home run. Contreras does a solid job behind Cubs catcher David Ross, who will retire after this season at age 39 and 14 seasons in the majors. Not only is Contreras proving to be a worthy replacement for Ross, the kid can hit. That was Contreras' 11 home run for his 32 RBI this season, as he was 2-4 at the plate yesterday. The Cardinals close the game 10-4 and a tied series. 

Matt Bowman earned his 12 hold, following Reyes, in two solid innings with two strikeouts. He starts the double play in the sixth and taking down the side in his seventh. 

Zach Duke, in the eighth, followed Bowman's lead as he took down the side with two strikeouts.   

Piscotty was on his game yesterday, 3-5 AB/1 HR/2 RBI and added two runs. Molina was 3-4 AB/4 RBI with one run. Grichuk was 2-5 AB/3 RBI. Now, to bring that energy to the rubber match tonight. Reyes got his fourth major league win, handing Jason Hammel his 10 loss. 

ESPN SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL ~ 7:00 CST 

This will be the third match-up this season between Cardinals Carlos Martinez (15-8/3.16 ERA) and Cubs Jon Lester (18-4/2.36 ERA). Martinez is 9-1 on the road with a 2.42 ERA. However, he is 1-2 facing the Cubs this season, 24 IP/5.25 ERA with giving up 3 HR/14 ER. His last outing at Wrigley Field, he went 6 IP for 3 ER for a Cubs .282 BA, in the Cardinals 4-3 loss. Lester's last outing against the Cardinals, at Busch Stadium, he blistered the Redbirds with going 8 IP scoreless innings, only giving up three hits for the Cubs 7-0 shutout. He is 9-2/1.86 ERA at home. Lester has brought a first half ERA of 3.01 down to a 1.46 in this second half this season sitting second to Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw 1.65 ERA in the National League. 

The Cardinals offense has their work cut out for them in tonight's match-up and need to find their way against Lester. Martinez, and bullpen, needs to keep pitches tight inside the strike zone so the Cubs sluggers aren't able to extend. 

The Cubs are looking to Lester to hand them one more win to have postseason home field advantage. The Cardinals are looking to Martinez to be extraordinary to see a win to keep them alive in the NL Wild Card race. After last night, with the New York Mets loss and the Giants win, those two teams are again tied for the #1 spot. Cardinals are 1/2 game behind in second. 

CARDINALS DL UPDATE

Matt Holliday, who was HBP by Cubs Mike Montgomery August 11 at Wrigley Field, sustained a fractured right thumb which required surgery, with pin to repair. He has been rehabbing and recently began 'live' BP. His third attempt in the past couple of days resulted, again, with swelling of his thumb. It was Holliday's hope that he would be able to return for tonight's game. However, per Rotowire data:  "Holliday (thumb) will meet with a specialist Monday before another live batting practice session, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold reports. (about 14 hours ago)." Well aware of Montgomery's history, I would think Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz was a tad nervous facing Montgomery in yesterday's game. He returned from the 15-Day DL, September 12, as he also sustained a fracture thumb/HBP on July 31 in their game against the Miami Marlins. Newly acquired from the San Diego Padres, Marlins starter Andrew Cashner provided that injury. 

JUST A PERSONAL GRIEVANCE  

In this final game tonight, I don't want to see any player hit-by-a-pitch. Should it happen and results in a DL injury, hopefully the ESPN announcers refrain from stating - "He's faking the hit", as was stated after Holliday sustained his. However, being familiar with the bias of ESPN regarding any top flight team, should a Cubs player be hit, rest assured it will be "retaliation". The competition between these two rival teams is fierce whether or not one or the other is contention in the standings. They play hard, they play tough; and, tonight's game will be no different.  

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